From the $787 billion stimulus package in the U.S. to China’s $586 billion, world governments are hoping that they can lay the groundwork for economic recovery. Some analysts say the worst is over.
In Japan, the downward spiral is getting steeper, with exports falling and companies slashing production. In the first quarter of the year, Japan’s economy shrank more quickly than at any time in the past 50 years. The country has pumped $154 billion in stimulus into the economy.
With unemployment now at 4.8 percent, Brazilians of Japanese descent who were welcomed just 10 years ago as guest workers are now being offered money to take a one way ticket and go home.
Blogger “Peter” in Japan visits a town populated mostly by Brazilians and describes the hardships there:
My daughter recently asked me if I could drive her to the nearby town of Oizumi so she could visit a friend who lived there, and I was happy to do it. In my 18 years here I’d never been to the “Brazil in Japan,” famous for having the highest percentage of nikkei Brazilians and Peruvians in the country. […]
It was certainly interesting to drive down the street and see all the businesses sporting Brazilian flags, and walking into the all-Brazilian convenience store was a good excuse to buy some interesting chocolates and something called Inca Kola. The people of the town are largely dependent on factory jobs at companies like Sanyo, and times are very hard for them right now, prompting the Japanese government to take the unprecedented step of offering financial assistance to any guest worker who wants to go home but who is unable to for economic reasons.
I was made redundant, I have several friends in Munich that have been made redundant, no point going home cause the situation is just as bad there. The industry that I worked in is in freefall with more job loses to come. It is absolutely unbelieveable and very scary. After a masters degree and several years of experience at very good companies, I have very little chance of finding a job. It’s like someone pressed the reset button on the economy.
In Spain, where new statistics say the country’s economy actually contracted by nearly 2 percent in the first quarter of 2009, unemployment has reached 17 percent. Blogger Alex in Spain describes his experience:
Here in Spain, unemployment has reached an all-time high. Back in March my part-time job had to cut out my English as a Second Language class because the government severely cut back on funding to adult education. Then yesterday was my partner’s last day at his job and he is now on the unemployment line.
In Africa, economies have been growing at a rate of six percent a year since 2000. But the head of the International Monetary Fund warned on Wednesday that growth on that continent will be only 1.5 percent this year. He called Africa “an innocent victim” of the recession and asked international donors to keep their aid commitments to Africa in the coming year.
Blogger “MrK” of “Zambian Economist” argues that aid is less important than economic reform:
What is needed is fargoing nationalisation of industries. Reinvest profits from raw materials in other economic sectors, and the economies will grow. There really is a need for economic diversification, and using the mines is the way to do it.
Economic reform, government reform, land reform, not more ‘aid’.
From Bahrain, blogger “Mahmood” describes how consumers have reacted to high vehicle prices:
There is an active campaign in Bahrain at the moment by consumers to force greedy car dealerships to reduce their prices. It’s apparently fashioned after a Saudi campaign which some say already bore fruit.
The essence of this campaign is to not buy cars, let the stock rust if need be, until dealers take active steps to make car prices in Bahrain comparable to world markets.
I remember when I first got here most of the criticism I heard from Mr. Thompson, when in opposition, was that the economic ills, especially rising prices, could be put at the door of the government of Mr. Owen Arthur. Now that the hat has a new wearer he is quick to point out he was having to deal with ‘circumstances not of our making’, and much blame is laid on the world recession. I don’t have a problem with that observation, but I wonder what changed in the shifting of positions.
Much of the success in economic policy is about confidence and credibility. Barbados needs foreigners’ money and it comes in three main forms–from tourists, from those setting up and operating international businesses here, and from investors in real estate on the island. My own view is that the government did not see that nothing should be done to jeopardise any of those pillars especially in the current fragile economic conditions. People are fickle when it comes to putting their money to work abroad. Tough economic conditions in the UK, Canada and the US will crimp tourists arrivals and spending. Plans by the world’s economic ‘big boys’ to rein in what they call ‘tax havens’ have had Barbados and other countries with relatively low taxes scrambling to paint themselves as less harmful. But, I think the ball was missed in making foreign property investors less welcome, and I fear that once they turn their backs it will be hard to get them to change their minds.